Friday, November 13, 2009

the horrible threes

I think it is funny that everyone talks about the terrible twos, when I definitely think the threes, or at least the almost threes, are much worse. Gabe is his normal sweet, funny, happy self most of the time, until... (picture creepy music) the monster within comes out. The almost three year old monster within has been pushing his sister, screams bloody murder when she touches his stuff, lays on top of her while she also screams bloody murder, and demands to do everything "all by himself" even when it is clear that he CANNOT DO IT. Like microwaving food, or getting dressed, or buckling himself into the car seat, or paying for items in stores. He is adamant that he does NOT need me, even though we all know he does.

I have to say, though, this new stage is teaching me to have endless stores of patience. I definitely value independence in my children, and I am all about him learning to use the bathroom all by himself, and get dressed all by himself, and put his coat and shoes on all by himself, so I'm finding it inside of me to let him keep trying and trying and TRYING even if it takes us forever to get out of the house.

I know this is totally typical. Any tips for me?


Chatty Cricket said...

I was warned by my SIL- she told me that you either get it in the twos, or you get it in the threes. With Lady, we got it from the almost nearly threes until just shy of four.

The difference with Lady was that at two she was frustrating, but it wasn't willful. At three, it became suddenly very WILLFUL, with a big splash of attitude.

Mister seems to be going from happy go lucky to MAJOR SPAZZ. Am thinking this will be our threes. Awesome.

OneTiredEma said...

What helps with us: Offer choices whenever possible. "Do you want to wear this shirt or this shirt? do you want to pee first or brush your teeth first? Put sunscreen on your face first or legs first? Go to park x or park y? Banana or apple?" Etc. Ad nauseum until you die. Sorta.

Of course sometimes there is no choice and then there is a lot of screaming.

Try not to take him places where you have to get stuff accomplished while he has to sit and be obedient (grocery store comes to mind) because it sucks rocks.

Three generally (3 1/2 specifically) has been a pinnacle of awful for us both times, but at least the second time I knew what I was in for. Read "Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy" for more affirmation that it's him, not you :)

Courage. If it's any consolation, four and five have been better.

stacy said...

I would like to tell you gets better soon, but as the mother of four teenagers, I would be lieing.

Get and egg timer, set it, for 1 min, 3 min, 5 min, whatever, tell him ok you want to do your shoes alone, fine, but its almost time for us to go. you have 5 minutes, when the bell rings, then mom will help you if you are not done.
and stick to it. through the kicking and screaming that is sure to come.

the only other alternative is to start trying to leave a full hour before you need to.

in addition give him items that will make him successful

things that are easy to put on
pants with elastic waists no zippers or such. pull on shoes or stuff with velcro. tops with either buttons at the top or a v neck for more head room
and if he puts it on backwards it won't be the end of the world!

i second the idea of choices like this or that.

good luck!

Beth said...

Amen! At least I know that I am not alone...we are almost at 3 too and she is just plain revolting. I shudder to think that 3 will be worse (how could it be) but I think it will be. I am reading all these tips too!

Meika said...

Yes, your world... it is mine. :) We're so there. We do the choices thing and have gotten rid of everything but elastic waistbands and velcro shoes as mentioned above. I have her outfit pre-selected. Most days I stand there and say, "Mama put the shirt over your head or Asparagus put the shirt over your head?" and hear either, "Mama do it" or "ALL MY MY SELF!!!" We do that for every. single. step. of the dressing process and try to do it first thing in the morning so we're not dealing with it while rushing out the door. There are plenty of days it doesn't work and we end up with the tantrum anyway, but it seems like the more I let her do, the less she freaks out when I do it for her. And it's actually amazing how much she's beginning to be able to do by herself - I'm having (very premature) fantasies of not having to be involved in the dressing process at all...

Okay, true confessions time - I do let her microwave things as long as I'm right there. So she puts the popcorn in for 74 minutes and 11 seconds - she is sooooo proud of herself! And I obviously stop the microwave after an appropriate amount of time. We do that with a lot of things. You want to do it? Fine. Go for it. Then we see how much she can actually do and stand by as the safety net. She learned very quickly that she didn't want to take the popcorn bag out by herself, so now she asks me (!) to do that.

We've also been trying to give her more real work to do - setting her place at the table, putting her dishes away, folding dishcloths, wiping the table, whatever. And I've JUST (like, yesterday) started looking up some Montessori-type activities for her to do at home. My theory is that the busier I keep her doing real tasks, the more satisfied and less volatile she'll be. Honestly, most of the time she's still in her chair watching Monsters, Inc. while I try to get my work done. But we're working on it! I'm looking forward to hearing what suggestions others have, as well.

liz said...

I'm dittoing the options suggestion and also the suggestion to make it as easy for him as possible to actually do it himself.

Elastic waist band pants, velcro shoes.

Plastic plates and cups so he can set and clear the table.

Let him help mix and add ingredients.

Let him brush his own teeth, but tell him the dentist says that mommy needs to give a last brush to all his teeth to say good night to them (helps if you sing a song while you do it).